Left the hotel at 5am for the start of the journey home. From today i have a new found admiration for Japanese taxi drivers , over night 30cm of snow had fallen , and there was ice under that as well ! After 20 yards i thought we wouldnt get there as the cab was sliding and bumping over differant depths of snow , and after 100 yards we came across a lorry crashing and blocking the road . Totally unphased he reversed up and got on to the back roads where they run water though holes in the road and these were certainly much clearer, staying on the back roads he got us on the highway 17 about 20 mins later and to the station with an hour to spare , would that have happened in the UK ???? Every time i leave , i feel sad knowing that it will be months till i return to the place and the people i have grown to love so much , many of the breeders asked if i was going to return to select tateshita in April instead of just ordering it , i think that may be i will !! . This week has been another fantastic week , Tom and Kevin were great company , and i hope they enjoyed it as much as i did .On Thursday night i sat down with the agent and started calling round the breeders to order more koi as we diddnt get much during the day , and some breeders we couldnt get to at all ! We have ordered 100s of tosai on top of what we mentioned in the blog , boxes of 15cm yamabuki ogons 14-16cm goromo , 14-16cm doitsu metalics and doitsu go sanke all from sakazume . From Toarazo a box of higher grade kohaku 25-30cm tosai , two boxes of kohaku , sanke and tancho , around 20cm and a box of sanke 25cm . With all the hand picked tosai during the week im sure that will make a nice selection of small koi for the shop and our new wholesale facility . I hope you have enjoyed reading the blog as much as i have writing it , if you would like to join us on a buying trip then please ring for details , dont be put off by the horror stories of the snow , as its only this trip that we face this problem .We intend to go out at least once more before this summer , so if you want to join us , or your thinking of going this auntumn for the harvest , then please ring us as there is already alot of intereast and i think places will go faster than ever this year ! If you are intereasted in buying any of our koi , from now on wards there will be no keeping fee as by the time they come out of q/tine im hoping temperatures will be warm enough to collect fish , if not it will be down to us ,look forward to seeing or speaking to you soon ...............Gary

Getting up today i realised that it was getting to be a nightmare getting round , it had snowed constantly for 48 hours and its still snowing as i write the blog now . To prove the point we first went to the Sakai high quality fish house in Nagaoka to see the three tategoi that i purchased last year and left in Japan for the summer , a ten minute journey normally , today an hour !! On arrival i was taken to the pond where the koi where , and have to say at first i was a little unsure about my decision to buy these very expensive tosai and leave them in the mudponds . But as they were bowled one by one my doubts turned to joy as they were as good as the breeder predicted . I was even happier when he described them still as tategoi , and asked if id like to leave them again for one more year , i was so tempted but i decieded against it and will be shipping them home, as we left Sakai came out and asked if we were coming out again for tateshita in aprill , i said i hoped so and he asked us to join him for dinner when next out there , a nice touch from one of the best breeders in Niigata  .From here we left to go back through Ojiya to Hosakai , bad move , the traffic was horrendous and the mountain roads lethal , and to add to that after an hour travelling this breeder had nothing we really wanted to buy , and our wheels locked and we slid down the hill nearly trashing one of our competitors cars ! . So back to Ojiy to buy rail tickets , visit the dry goods shop and get something to eat .It was around this time i realised that today was going to be my bad day , reguler readers will know that i always have a bad day , and today was going to be it ! Visits to Miyatora , Marasakaand  Miyashi also proved fruitless .With the snow really coming in fast alot of breeders said that they couldnt even get to the fish houses so not to come , in fact one said dont be silly ,  go back to the hotel !!!! So we decieded to call into Dianichi to have a quick look and then return to base. Im always impressed at the showa here , they are undoubtably some of the best in the world , but untill im looking at that level , we will continue to buy elsewhere as i think we get better value with other breeders . Although one day may be we will need to buy koi at the level here that no one else seems to be able to breed to ! Travelling back to the hotel i couldnt help feeling a bit disapointed that i hadnt bought a single koi all day , then i looked through the photos of koi we had bought and was really pleased with what we had bought  .So back for an early night and get ready planes , trains and automobiles ................

Today was always going to be about tosai , either hand selecting or getting the breeder to select better koi than are being offered by importers . First stop was Shintaro , and although the prices were very high , it took me a while to realise that we were being offered the chance to select through some of his best tategoi . We moved onto another tosai house where things were more affordable and here we were offered some very good deals on tosai which we will take up by the end of the week . In the nisai house we started looking at some very high class sanke , here Kevin purchased a sanke with very little sumi but of skin quality way over anything we had bowled all week .While in Mushigame we visited Yagenji koi farm , we have a fantatsic relationship with these guys and always buy as much as we can there , this time we had to sort out a large showa that was not shipped due to a misunderstanding , this was bowled and had improved since it was purchased in the autumn .Then we had to see a koi that was bought for me by our agents in november .The sansai shiro was bowled and i couldnt believe the quality of the koi , it was to be left in Japan but the sumi was through and so strong i changed my mind and arranged to ship this as well . Very pleased as this is not the way to buy koi , but as ive said before "he who dares wins !" At this time of year Yagenji will not let people select as the koi are being fed and built up in preperation for shipment across the world , as usual i voiced my opinion and dissapointment untill the brothers offered me over 150 tosai of go sanke , gin rin go sanke and non go sanke hand picked by them selves , well as i always say trust the breeder ( and i do with these guys ) we shook hands and moved on to Kaneco knowing that at last i had some higher grade tosai on the way to Gtawick koi .Kaneco as usual had some koi of all ages and some stunning shiro utsuri which we are going back to look at again tomorrow with a view of buying some very nice tosai and one female nisai shiro of very good grade . Next we popped into Tanaka Maraju , although the breeder wasnt here , we were allowed in and looked at some unbelievable 3 and 4 yr old tancho and tancho showa , we will be trying to go back asap !After lunch it was off to see Yamazaki to look at some tosai ponds when disater struck , the breeder had left an unguarded pond of extremely well priced sansai in the way of the tosai , well im sorry i just couldnnt help myself and ended up with 4 sansai all female gin and kin matsuba , and an extremely high grade male kujaku . If im honest i completely lost intereast in the tosai and found myself buying more larger koi that i really dont need , one very nice female sanke around 54cm , and a yonsai platinum ogon around 66cm and also female . Oh well , looks like tomorrow may be tosai day ...........lol . From here we went round the corner to Miya where there was very little nisai , but plenty of sansai and older koi including the large doitsu kujaku that we saw in the autumn looking even better than it did them ! A quick look in Izumiya never fails to dissapoint with seeing so many koi at over 90 cm , and then to look at sakazume goromo , glad we did as there were some very good offers that we will be taken up on . Eight breeders today , and some nice koi bought , all in all a very relaxing and enjoyable day .As myself Tom and Kevim were chatting , my mind drifted off to the events in Shintaros first fish house , not the near accident that involved a 4x4 driving like it was on skates due to a one meter size lump of snow that our agent thought he could drive over and got stuck underneath while our breeder who had graciously accepted our offer cowered in the back thinking how much safer it would have been in his truck , but the tategoi , i started mulling over a plan that involves Shintaro , tategoi and large sums of money , and god does my bank account hate it when a plan like this come together !!!! First pic is Kevins sanke , second pic is Shintaro crying after he thinks the sanke was way too cheap now its been bowled and also that Kevin now requires a written contract guaranteeing that more sumi will come through . Two more koi at Shintaro that in thinking of buying .A couple of pics of Kevin and breeder , Sansai Yagenji shiro ,Gin matsuba , kin matsubas , kujaku , platinum and sanke alfrom yamazaki .Sorry about the photography , it makes some of the ogons look skinny , trust me they arnt !

This week has been a nice steady pace with koi available of all qualitys and varietys and sizes .All im missing was some tosai and any koi that should take my fancy , and today it all fell into place ! The morning started off with my mate Maruhiro who let us buy some very nice grade of tosai , while we sorted out the deal for the tosai my dutch friend Jerone turned up and offered to take Kevin off to the hoshino brothers and take another look at the yonsai kohaku he liked . After the tosai deal had been done , we were ready to shoot off and do the rushing about round Niigata that only westerners seem to excell at ! , Hinori san was having none of it , wife waiting at facility to see you for coffee , in years gone buy i would have refused and shot off like a busy bee , but now more than ever i realise that you have to take time out and spend time with breeders that you want to develop good relationships with . I think this breeder will soon reach the hieghts of some of his better known counter parts , and for some reason we seem to get on very well , to the point where we both seem to laugh at the slightest thing , and this october it seems i am to become staff for a few days in the harvest , somthing i will really look forward to and hope that our buisinesses will grow together . Saying our good byes as tomorrow is our last day we went on to Tsuna , here we found some very nice kin ki utsuri and platinum ogons but wasnt really in the market so we moved on to Torazo . I really needed to pick up the pace with the tosai buisness , so after a long chat Torazo agreed to select a box of tosai around 25cm sanke for us , along with two boxes of go sanke and tancho ( one for me and one for tom ) , and then he offerd a much higher grade of Kohaku 25CM -30CM again which he would select , so i decieded it would be rude to refuse , so sanke and kohaku well taken care off . While looking at some of his nisai i found two kohaku which took my fancy , and there was another one in the better nisai facility which i had seen the other day .While thinking about it Kevin and Jerone returned with the news that they has sealed a very good deal on the yonsai kohaku kevin has been looking at . Caught up in the moment i decieded to celebrateby thinking about buying all three nisai kohaku , worried about the amount of koi ive bought kevin just laughed and said , if you cant sell them , you might as well call it a day Gaz , now i was under pressure so bought them all !!! As we had done so much buisness with Torazo , we diddnt realise it was time for lunch and out appointment with Sakai was rapidly approaching , it was then we realised another problem , a snow blizzard had come down , in an hour and a half while in the breeders 6 inches of snow had fallen , and driving was becoming slightly on the dangerous side as visibilty was very low ! But with our agent being an excellant driver we reached the curry hut ( as its effectionatley known) , and arrived at Sakai koi farm bang on time . After looking around the facility , we started bowling up koi , and i was shcoked at what we were being offered , some very nice koi , right through to high grade koi at very, very nice prices . I can usually only afford one or two koi at this farm as the quality and prices are normaly very high , so i wasnt going to waste an opertunity like this , first of all four nisai gin rin showa , all female 45-50cm and of very high quality , then two female sanke again female and of very high quality , tom bought one and i had the other , along with another nice sanke , gin rin tancho and a tancho showa .Nine Yamamatsu koi and i was very happy , then Sakai showed us another pond with very high quality sanke so another two female sanke were purchased . along with a goromo showa , and two kumonryu . Unfortunately , or fortunatley we were buying so many koi that again time had run away with us , and we diddnt have time to go to the other koi house down the mountains to see the very expensive jumbo tosai i had left out there last year in the mudponds . So we go there tomorrow , and im really looking forward to that as the koi were harvested late after i had returned in October , Sakai has assured me i will be very happy with them , so we will see as we are back there first thing tomorrow . Racing through the snow we just managed to make our appointment at Kaneko , this was very important as we were there to hand pick shiro utsuri tosai , and diddnt want to be late ! When we got there the breeder had already got things ready for us and within minutes we were ready to go .Hand picking tosai is great fun , and the faster you get it done the happier the breeder is, so with a few minutes the job was done , and we also bought a very high quality shiro utsuri , nisai and female . Now to the weather was really closing in and we decieded to beat a hasty retreat to the hotel while we still could , tomorrow will be an intereasting day as the snow is set to fall for the next 24 hours , so im hoping we can still get around ok . A i write this , things have just become worse , either workman are smashing down the wall the other side of my hotel room at 9pm , or there has just been an earthquake , Although i do love my job , i wonder wether somtimes you have to be a bit insane to keep going , oh well back to sleeping in my pants and trainers again ..........................First three kohakus are from Torazo , Maruten sanke we are still thing about purchasing and again is from Torazo , All the rest go sanke are from Yamamatsu koi farm , tosai shiro utsuri hand selected and nisai shiro from Kaneko .Any dealers that like the Sakai koi please email asap as more of these koi can be bought but i need to know tonight as tomorrow is my last day .

 

This morning we started out just round the corner from our hotel at Marudo koi farm .After having a good look round at the tosai which looked better than ever this year we moved on to the larger koi .Marudo offered us some amazing prices on large sansai ogon , chagoi and karashigoi .Feeling it would be rude to turn them down myself and Jerone from Holland bought 8 between us . They are all female and around 60-65cm . One yamabuki is already sold and im thinking we may have to return to buy some more ! From here we went to Nogami , he had some very nice jumbo tosai we could select from , but couldnt get the right deal so we passed on and moved onto his nisai fish house , here a very nice maruten showa was bowled by one of our customers who is thinking this option over .Next appointment was at Torazo , this is one of my favourite go sanke breeders , and again he diddnt disappoint . With many fish bowled and again being thought about over the next  day or two and some nice offers being made on tosai .Now people in the party had the kohaku bug we kept the the theme going by going to Mano .Here we found some very nice kohaku at very good prices but not quite the quality we were looking for , so it was decieded to try Marabushi koi farm .Here the quality was outstanding , with nisai koi around 55cm mouths were drooling every time a net come up ! One of our party has looked at a very serious kohaku , skin quality was awesome matched by a perfect white head , this koi may end up in the uk yet !!!!! Once again we were offered the chance to hand select tosai but it wasnt really what we were looking for so we moved on to Kawakami . If im honest i havnt bought here in three years as i have felt that the quality hadnt matched the asked prices , but you have to keep going back in case that changes , and today it did .The first koi that caught may eye was a 65cm yonsai female gin rin matsukawabaki , and when he gave the price i shot out my hand so quick to shake his i think he nearly jumped with fright !! Then followed  50cm sandsai female gin rin ki goi , more matsukawabaki , goshiki , aka matsuba and even a sansai shusui .Thats one of the things i love about Niigata , nothing is constant , what may be your favourite breeder one day is not the next .Where you hoped to buy koi you cant , where you thought there ws no koi theres plenty , im not getting all soppy about things , thats just the way it is !!! Im hoping soon that kevin Ellis will be making a video of this trio so ill make the link available as soon as it is ready .For those wondering how me and Kev are getting along , i can honestly say wonderfull , he is calm, caring , sharing  , patient and the perfect company for me and Tom , i just hope that he doesnt find out about the valium we slipped in his tea last night ..................pics in order four sansai all female 60-65cm please note that these are bigger than they look , thats one massive bowl !, three nisai high quality kohaku from torazo , two individual pics of same fish , 4 step stunning kohaku from Torazo , Marabushi yonsai maruten yondan kohaku ! 60-65cm gin rin matsukawabaki and various sansai and nisai from kawakami .